Montana State fires Kramer as football coach
HELENA, Mont. -- Montana State football coach Mike Kramer was fired Friday, several days after another former Bobcats athlete was arrested on drug charges.
Kramer was 40-43 in seven seasons, including an 8-5 mark last season. He led the Bobcats to three Big Sky Conference titles and three NCAA Division I-AA playoff appearances and became their 30th head football coach in 1999.
Athletic Director Peter Fields said the football program's legal troubles, which date back to 2003, point to a "crisis in leadership."
"It starts with leadership," Fields said. "When you look at our football program's recent history, it is apparent that its direction does not fit with what this university is all about."
He said he made the decision Friday, which was confirmed by MSU President Geoff Gamble and Vice President for Student Affairs Allen Yarnell.
Kramer was not in his office late Friday and did not return a call to his cell phone seeking comment.
Former MSU wide receiver Rick Gatewood was arrested this week on drug charges and is accused of using his athletic scholarship money to traffic cocaine from California in the Bozeman area. His brother also faces drug charges.
Gatewood is the sixth former MSU athlete arrested or charged with crimes involving drugs or murder in the past year.
Gatewood, a Richmond, Calif., native, was an all-Big Sky Conference wide receiver in 2004 and 2005. He signed with the Oakland Raiders as a free agent last summer, but didn't make the team, and was expected to try out with Major League Baseball's Philadelphia Phillies this month.
Montana State cornerback Andre Fuller pleaded not guilty in March to charges he sold cocaine to a confidential informant last June. He was suspended from the football team while the case is investigated.
Former wide receiver Edward Sullivan, 23, of Carlsbad, Calif., and Derrick Davis Jr., 21, a former cornerback from Santa Monica, Calif., have also been charged with selling drugs.
And last June, former redshirt football player John Lebrum and former Bobcat basketball player Branden Miller were charged with murder and kidnapping in the shooting death of suspected drug dealer Jason Wright. They have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled for trial in the coming months.
In October 2004, former assistant head football coach Joe O'Brien was sentenced to four years in prison for his role in a methamphetamine distribution conspiracy.
A nationwide search for Kramer's replacement will begin immediately, sports information director Bill Lamberty said.
Montana State opens its 2007 regular season Sept. 1 at Texas A&M.
The Bobcats posted their first postseason win in 22 years when they beat Furman 31-13 in the Division I-AA championships last fall, and finished the season ranked 10th in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. Montana State was beaten 38-17 by Appalachian State in the I-AA quarterfinals.
Kramer, a Colton, Wash., native, began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Colton in 1976. The next year, he became an assistant at Helena High School in Montana and was later hired as the school's head coach.
Kramer joined the Bobcat staff in 1983 as defensive line coach and became defensive coordinator two years later.
After a two-year stint at Tacoma Stadium High School, he was hired in 1989 as Eastern Washington's offensive line coach. He became the team's head coach in 1994, compiling a 37-32 record, before being hired by Montana State again in 1999.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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